Portions of Everglades National Park will reopen today, Sunday, November 20 after Tropical Storm Gamma?s projected path shifted further south overnight. Due to damage caused by Hurricane Wilma which passed over the area on October 24, portions of Everglades National Park will still be inaccessible to the public.
Dry Tortugas National Park will reopen on Monday, November 21. Limited portions of Fort Jefferson are still damaged and may be temporarily closed for visitor safety.
The main entrance to the Everglades National Park is now open 24 hours per day, but due to facility damage access is limited. Due to ongoing recovery efforts and safety concerns in the Flamingo Visitor Center area, visitors can only travel as far as Mahogany Hammock trail. The popular Anhinga trail is open, but the Royal Palm Visitor Center is closed for renovation. Gulf Coast Visitor Center, Shark Valley Visitor Center and the main entrance visitor?s center are all open. Trams are once again running at Shark Valley on a slightly reduced schedule.
Long Pine Key campground is now open for camping.
The damage was most severe in the Flamingo area. This area experienced very high winds and an 8 foot storm surge. Facilities, staff residences and utilities were damaged or destroyed. Park staff and outside resources are working to fully open the park as soon as possible. The lodge and cabins at flamingo will be unavailable for overnight stays until further notice. Flamingo campground may not be re-opened until next year. The availability of boating access to Florida Bay from Flamingo is a priority and it is hoped that access can be reestablished in a few weeks. However, services can be expected to be very limited upon reopening.
Portions of the backcountry canoe trails have large amounts of trees and brush blocking safe passage. Therefore the trails are closed as crews in small skiffs work with chainsaws to clear the trails. Overnight stays and camping in the backcountry will remain unavailable until repairs can be made to Chickees and portable toilets damaged or destroyed by the storm. It is hoped that backcountry canoe trails will be reopened by the end of the year.
Conditions change daily. Updated information for both parks can be obtained by calling 305/242/7700.